How to feel 10 years younger: Age really is just a number - if you live your life right

Monday, June 6, 2011
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What's the secret to feeling younger? TBY asked for advice on how to look great, feel happy and stay healthy, year after year. The answer, it seems, is to keep moving forward and don't think about your age.

Get moving

Think you're too old or tired to exercise? Think again. Laura Morningstar, clinical integration coordinator at HealthPoint Fitness, and Carlen Mulholland, personal trainer at Fitness Plus, agree that everyone can -- and should -- exercise for good health.

"You have the power to bend the aging curve," says Morningstar. "I am not talking about preventing death -- I am talking about living a happy, healthy, mobile, independent life for many years. Exercise is the magic." According to Morningstar, exercise affects the mind and body in many ways. Aerobic exercise increases blood flow, releases positive hormones, relieves stress, eases joint stiffness, and boosts heart function and lung capacity. Resistance exercise improves strength and balance, and flexibility training improves mobility. The result, she says, is more energy, a better mood and improved health, noticeable throughout your daily activities.

"There has been so much research on the wonderful benefits of exercise. It helps prevent or slow the effects of Alzheimer's, cancer and high cholesterol," says Mulholland. She urges seniors to join a group exercise class like tai chi or water aerobics, or at least get together with friends to walk -- the social aspect of exercise is almost as beneficial as the physical.

To get started, Morningstar suggests speaking with a health or fitness professional to find out what types of exercise are safe and healthy for you. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests 30 minutes of exercise most days a week, says Morningstar, but you might need to work up to that level.

"We must realize that there are many times in our lives that we may need modifications or to slow down -- but we don't stop," says Morningstar. "This is why seeking advice from a fitness professional on exercise is important. They will always be able to adjust activities to properly fit you."

Mulholland says walking is a good start for anyone.

"It's cheap and easy. Just put on your shoes and go," she says. "There's so much research out there showing that doing something is better than nothing. The body was made to move, even when we're older."

Look the part

It's been said that if you look good, you feel better, and Becky Davidson, co-owner of Belladona Salon, Spa and Boutique in Cape Girardeau, says that is absolutely true.

"Try to keep yourself trendy -- not over the top, but get facials, always put your makeup on and get your hair done," she advises. "It just makes you feel better. It's a healthy alternative to not doing anything."

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Massages are good for circulation and removing toxins from the body, says Davidson, while regular manicures and pedicures ensure you have healthy hands and feet -- and they're not just for the ladies. More men are also enjoying simple spa treatments, she says.

Belladona has many clients in their 50s and up, and Davidson says their favorite treatments are massages, facials and hair services. In fact, she recently met a client who treated herself to a facial, manicure and makeup application in honor of her 100th birthday. It was her first facial, says Davidson, and she said it made her feel so good that she now hopes to have a monthly facial.

Lend a hand

Volunteering is good for your own mental health as well as your social life, says Andi Malick, assistant director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program/Volunteer Intergenerational Center in Cape Girardeau.

"Volunteering is a great way to get out of the house and get involved in the community," she says. "It makes you feel good to know that you're giving back to the community where you live."

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R.S.V.P. matches people to volunteer opportunities based on their interests and availability. The organization has offices in Cape Girardeau, Chaffee and Sikeston, Mo., and partners with a number of not-for-profit groups in Southeast Missouri.

Realizing that retired people have worked all their lives, Malick says R.S.V.P. wants volunteers to find an activity that's fun, meaningful and flexible. If you like the outdoors, you might volunteer in your city's parks and recreation department. If you like kids, maybe you'd enjoy working one-on-one with schoolchildren. If you like to socialize with others your age, the senior center could be the place for you.

"The possibilities are endless," says Malick.

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